Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: In the middle of horse country, in The Garden State
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Here are a couple of things to look for:
1) spindle marks: if a record has been played a great deal, or hasn't been taken care of properly, you will see a lot of marks near the center of the label. When I shop for LP's I don't bother with anything that has been played a lot (as per the spindle marks) regardless of the condition of the vinyl, unless of course it is a very valuable LP.
2) pressing defects: these show up as tiny little bubbles in the vinyl. This makes a little hiss or popping sound when you play them.
3) scratches: If the LP's have big scratches, set them aside. Audiophiles won't be interested in them, but I know of people who use damaged LP's for making bowls. PM for suggestions. run the side of your hand or fingers over the record to remove dust and make the surface easier to inspect. If you see a tiny scratch, run your fingernail over it lightly. If you can feel it than so will the stylus. If you can't feel it then those minor scratches might not affect the sound.
4) If you can find a copy of the Canfield guide or know someone who has it, you can get a rough idea of the value of the records. The Canfield guide mainly has classical stuff. There's a separate guide for rock & roll but I don't recall the author at the moment, although if you PM this weekend, I can give you a name and title.
If you live anywhere near NJ or NYC, I might take the classical.